For the Record …

August 29, 2023
5 mins read

For the Record …

 

By Ambar Ramirez

 

Before there were music streaming services, mp3 players and CDs, before we were illegally downloading music onto our desktops, there were cassettes and vinyl records. The latter faced a kiss of death within the music industry during the late 1980s and early 1990s when CDs became the dominant format for recorded music. But in the same way fashion trends from the ’90s and ’70s are popular in our modern age due to renewed interest in the past, vinyl records have resurfaced in recent years. Not only do records offer a unique sound one can only hear when a vinyl spins on a turntable, but they are also super fun to collect. There is something special about finding that one album your dad used to play in the car on the way to school in physical form. And most importantly, it offers something lost within music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music: listening to the whole album in the original song order the artist intended and carefully crafted. 

 

And because of this multifaceted phenomenon surrounding the popularity of vinyl records, independent record stores have had a comeback as well, becoming cultural hubs and community spaces for music lovers in the process. Naturally, Jacksonville is home to many independent record stores. All argue that they are the best independent record stores, and frankly, they all are. So in no specific order, I present to you some of Jacksonville’s best independent record stores. 

 

  • Wolfson Records 
    • The independent record store has been a part of Jacksonville’s music scene for roughly seven years. Wolfson Records was once a warehouse full of vinyl records and equipment located on University Blvd but is now at a smaller location on San Jose Boulevard. Still, the smaller-sized shop in no way portrays the large range of music this record store has. Through the yellow-painted door with a porthole, I was instantly met with loud ambient music that I almost didn’t hear the man sitting at the counter greet us. The space was filled to the brim with records in makeshift record holders made out of cardboard boxes, separated by genre, as well as a whole wall dedicated to cassettes. From rock, pop and new wave to soul R&B and easy listening “[Cheesecake Exotica]”, whatever that means, there is something for everybody in this carefully curated record store. The prices range from $8 to $100 for rare records. I myself walked away with a brand new live Pearl Jam album recorded in Chicago in 1992 for $28. It was actually when I went to check out that I got to know the man behind the counter, the owner himself, Ron “Godfather” Johnston. He mentioned that he got to meet Pearl Jam and Nirvana at his old record shop in Seattle, making me fall in love with this record store even more. 
    • Record Pick: “Pearl Jam: Live At Cabaret Metro Chicago, March 28, 1992 (FM Broadcast)”
    • Buys and trades used records
    • $$- $$$

 

  • Yesterday and Today Records
    • Yesterday, all their troubles seemed so far away … Not that I know of any troubles they may have had, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to quote The Beatles, especially when this independent record store has an entire section devoted to the original heartthrob boy band. Of course, Yesterday and Today Records has more than just the classics in stock. If the name isn’t telling enough, this record store founded in 1998 and now located in San Marco has a large variety of records. Whether you’re looking for jazz, reggae, rockabilly, disco or experimental, you’ll find it within the impressive space. Unlike Wolfson’s Records, this shop separates most records by last name, while some special genres like The Beatles, country and soundtracks have their own designated bins to sort through. The pricing was a bit cheaper from other stores, but that in no way took away from the value of the records they have. When I found Styx’s “Pieces Of Eight” in the bins labeled $2, I didn’t have a choice but to purchase the gem. In addition to records, the shop has CDs and cassettes, along with equipment like used record players and books for sale. And this is slightly biased but they get bonus points for playing “Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi as I roamed the seemingly endless store.
    • Record Pick : Styx “Pieces Of Eight” 
    • Buys and trades used records
    • $

 

  • Tiger Records
    • One of the newer names in the record store game, Tiger Records opened up last year along with Eraser Records (R.I.P.) and is still running strong. Located in historic Riverside, this independent record store truly lives up to its name — that is if you also imagine a tiger would listen to hardcore metal and punk music. As I entered the shop, it was as if I had teleported to a jungle with tiger memorabilia scattered throughout the store, plants and hardcore metal music filling my ears. As the store is very aesthetically pleasing, pushing a certain image, the diversity of records is just as carefully curated. While most genres can be found at this store, there was definitely a focus on punk, hardcore metal and classic rock. But it was in the “new arrivals” bin that I found a brand new Cocteau Twins “Heaven or Las Vegas” record for $28. Besides the carefully crafted record collection (with prices ranging from $1 to $50), this record store also has vintage T-shirts, stickers, pins, turntables and equipment for sale. 
    • Record Pick: Cocteau Twins “Heaven or Las Vegas”
    • Buys and trades used records
    • $-$$

 

  • Soul Waves Vinyl Records
    • The Beaches definitely aren’t excluded from this list of independent record stores. In a blue wood-paneled building tucked behind the busy traffic of Third Street in Jax Beach is Soul Waves Vinyl Records. Being one of the only independent record stores near the beach, the owner did not shy away from keeping to the beachy theme with surfboards hanging from all corners in the naturally sunlit store. And just as you would expect, this beach record store has vinyls of all genres but specifically country, soul waves and, surprisingly, house music with prices ranging from $1 to $50. Now here’s the kicker and why everyone should visit this establishment. First, let me set the scene. I’m roaming through the new arrivals bins (that doesn’t mean new records, just newly added to the stock) when I came across The Cars’ “The Cars” record for $18, then I found Stevie Nicks’ “Wild Heart” for $17 and even though I was already overwhelmed with deciding which record I would take home, something told me to keep looking. And that is when I found it, Stevie Nicks’ 1981 “Bella Donna” for $18. Since “Edge Of Seventeen” has a special place in my heart, I knew that this was the record I was meant to walk away with. And to add a cherry on top to my already sweet experience, Joe aka the owner of Soul Waves sold the record to me for $10!
    • Record Pick:  Stevie Nicks “Bella Donna”
    • Buys and trades used records
    • $

 

  • Honorable Mention: DJ’s Record Shop
    • Before I even walked around the corner to the entrance of this five-decade-old establishment, music seeped out into the busy traffic of Edison Avenue and McDuff Avenue South. DJ’s Record Shop is the oldest name in the game of independent record stores in Jacksonville, and its towering stacks of vinyl shows it. And when I say towering stacks of records, I mean it. I would be surprised if more than one person could roam through the narrow path laid out by all the records. Within this cramped space, music lovers will be sure to find gospel, R&B, jazz, rap and reggae, new and old. Not only do records fill the warehouse space: Speakers, stereos, cassettes and CDs are also for sale and reach ceiling heights too … and a 25-cent gumball machine, if you’re into that kind of thing. Regardless of your taste in music, this business is a community staple and has stood as long as it has because of it. Don’t let the overwhelming atmosphere keep you from visiting this Jacksonville gem.
    • $$-$$$

Flipping through magazines for as long as she can remember, Ambar Ramirez has always known she wanted to be a journalist. Fast forward, Ambar is now a multimedia journalist and creative for Folio Weekly. As a recent graduate from the University of North Florida, she has written stories for the university’s newspaper as well as for personal blogs. Though mainly a writer, Ambar also designs and dabbles in photography. If not working on the latest story or design project, she is usually cozied up in bed with a good book or at a thrift store buying more clothes she doesn’t need.

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